Eugene Weekly : Fashion : 8.12.2010



Downtown Dress-Up

Feathered Friends Flocking to the new trend in hair style

Getting Undressed With a Crowd Old friends, New clothes and friendly nudity

Sidewalk Style


Getting Undressed With a Crowd
Old friends, New clothes and friendly nudity
by Catherine Foss

“Naked lady party” isn’t just a phrase that might describe a certain kind of bachelor party. A naked lady party, these days, is a cleverly named clothing swap that has a few rules to make the event run smoothly. Old sweaters, too-tight jeans and that lime green shirt that has been hanging in your closet for three years — all can find new homes and appreciative owners. 

While trading clothing with friends is nothing new, the difference between an ordinary clothing swap and a naked lady party is in the ambience. A naked lady party is a full-blown event. 

Heather Hayward and Judy Kerner are part of a stitch ’n’ bitch group that meets every Tuesday, and the 12 women in the group take turns hosting naked lady parties every few months. There are always snacks, ranging from chips and dips to soufflés. And, of course, there’s wine and beer — because, Kerner says, it helps people lose their inhibitions and feel free to dig into that clothing pile. 

While the basic concept is simple — show up with clothing you don’t like, leave with some “new” additions to your wardrobe — there are two ways to host a naked lady party. The first way is what Kerner refers to as a “crazy free-for-all.” Participants dump their garments in a pile in the middle of the room, and everybody goes at it. Says Hayward, “It’s more fun digging into the pile. I can’t imagine it being too formal.”   

For those who are overwhelmed by the thought of frenzied women digging through a huge pile of clothing, there are rules and guidelines that can make naked lady parties a bit more organized. One of the women holds up each item up and describes the brand, size, style, color, etc. Then, interested women raise their hands and try on the item. If more than one woman wants the item, the audience might vote on who should have it. Other women might sort the clothing by size, style and type, making it easier to browse through the clothing without becoming overwhelmed. With a group of fashionable women like Kerner and Hayward’s crowd, you can end up with a lot of clothes. 

Hayward says it’s crucial that the women have a lot of time to prepare for the event, so they can spend time going through their closets. In addition to the usual sweaters and jeans, the women in her group have brought in wild clothing like a pair of orange lacy hot pants, a polyester pantsuit and a mustard yellow gas station attendant outfit. Kerner mentions that there are also a few girls who do roller derby, so there might be some items like “funky lace panties.” 

One important rule: no boys allowed. If the event’s host has a husband or boyfriend, he’s sent elsewhere. Then, Hayward says, “Prepare to get naked.” As the evening proceeds, the women try on item after item, using each other to get feedback and sometimes just trying on clothing for the fun of it. Says Kerner, “If someone is in a goofy mood, they’ll pile on ill-fitting clothes and parade around.” 

Cindy Ingram, another naked lady partygoer in Eugene, went to her first naked lady party 10 years ago and now hosts more parties than she has been to. She says clothing styles at these parties are all over the board, from costumes and sequins to jeans and tiny little dresses. Sometimes there are accessories like scarves, panty hose and purses, and once somebody brought a pink thong that said “Just married.” “My friend insisted that I keep it,” Ingram says. “She’s trying to marry me off.” 

Despite the fact that Ingram’s parties are a free-for-all, Ingram says that the women don’t fight over the items. “We don’t want to play into the stereotype that women are fighting over clothes,” she says. 

Ingram suggests wearing a skirt so it’s easier to try things on and inviting as many people as possible — more people means more variety. A couple of weeks ago, she sent out invitations over the internet and gathered 30 women together. She decorated her backyard with furniture and pillows, and the group roasted marshmallows outside. “It was a swanky wine and fashion evening,” she says. 

Leftover clothing from naked lady parties typically goes to local thrift stores, but Ingram donated her extras to a garage sale for Relay for Life. Sometimes the nicer things are kept for the next swap in hopes that these items can find a home after all. 

Overall, naked lady parties are about spending time with the girls, cleaning out your closet and adding to your wardrobe without spending a penny. As Ingram says, “If the dress fits, wear it.”